Microsoft's Susan Hendrich dishes on the development of Cortana


We’ve been playing with Cortana for the past few weeks and it was just a few days ago that you all joined in on the fun with the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers. You know what we think about Cortana and Windows Phone 8.1 because of our review. And the community seems to be responding positively to the feature as well. Now we get to meet the principal program manager lead at Microsoft who spearheaded Cortana’s personality thanks to a new blog posting at Microsoft’s JobsBlog.

Susan Hendrich has been working on Cortana for over two years. She’s been directly responsible for Cortana’s personality – that’s both written, spoken and the circle representation. Going forward, she’ll be working on the natural language experience with Cortana.

Susan Cortana

The blog post focuses primarily on what’s it like to work at Microsoft, but we do get to learn a few interesting tidbits about Cortana.

Did you know that the Windows Phone team interviewed the personal assistants of many celebrities to find what makes them successful? This led them Susan and her team to give Cortana a personality that’s competent, caring, confident and loyal.

Check out the whole interview to learn what it’s like working at Microsoft and to learn a few other small details about Cortana. Pieces like that are important to remind us that people like you are working products we come to love.

Source: Microsoft JobsBlog



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Cortana is just amazing. And I'm sure it will get even better over time! :D

pookyjoralyn says:

I wish she can use data from many sources, so she can tell the local places everywhere I am.

sintg says:

yeh, we all tried lots of swearing with fun results :)

Desean00 says:

I can't wait.

James8561 says:

wow Cortana is actually based on Real people.

take that Siri and Now.

OMG55 says:

I love windows phone and cortana, but let's just be glad we have a competent assistant and stop bashing competition; let the greatness speak for itself

Surya Teja says:

Oh.. Do you feel so? Try this then: Ask Cortana.., "who is your father?" Then after it replies.., ask her.."how old is he?" See how stupid Cortana is...!

chrgeorgeson says:

Not sure what to say to this? Stupid? I asked exactly like you said and it gave me a Bing search result for his age. 

Was that the point? 


Either way I'm glad I have Cortana. It's pretty cool, especially for a non 1.0 product.

It would be cool though if she had a better memory so she knows who "he" is.

jleebiker says:

1) This is a beta.

2) Much better than the alternatives.

3) Let's see you do better.

4) Why you mad Bro?

TJccBR says:

Still a long way ahead

Shambels says:

Love it! Please alter the voice to sound just like the actual Cortana!!

Steven Curl says:

They are continuing to work with Jen Taylor and recording her voice to make cortana sound much more real. This type of thing takes extensive time. Concatenation of natural language is not an easy task, and given the complexities of the English language and nuance it will take years for her to be whole. I have a feeling Microsoft and Taylor are in it for the long haul though, so we can look forward to an improved Cortana as time goes by!

radde says:

Ans then there are much more complex languages like German and eventually we have the Asian languages; that's going to be a pain in the ass for Microsoft to get the pronunciations right. It is totally under understandable that Cortana will first only understand English. Though one would wish MS would eventually understand that English is also spoken outside the all mighty USA and that we would not have to set our region to USA just to get Cortana working.

5 phones Cortana won't work while under Wi-Fi. 1520 928 810 and two 521s. Love her though.

wolfgangjr says:

What are you rambling about? Cortana works fine on my 928.

Joeul_Ramos says:

I have a L521 and Cortana works fine under WiFi

MarkTurbo says:

Rubbish! Cortana works fine on my 1520 while on Wi-Fi

jcrus says:

No idea what problem you're having, works for me just fine on my 1520

cknorthpole says:

Works fine on 1520 under wifi.

OMG55 says:

That's weird, I have 2 HTC 8x's, 2 920's, 3 Icons, 3 Lumia 928's, 3 Lumia 822's, and none of the has given me issues!

NightWatch71 says:

Why do you have so many phones? Wouldn't having one of each models be enough if you were a developer?

Steven Curl says:

Have you posted on the forums, because it seems like this is an issue with your WiFi, not necessarily the phone hardware or Cortana? I can't imagine Cortana using anything other than 80 or 443, but its always a possibility.

Yes there's a topic in the forums maybe ill reset my router. None of the phones. She works but doesn't search the net like she should.

fallback says:

Works perfectly on my 520 :]

dalyjc says:

Works on my 1520

ebin5 says:

Works on my 520

Some people say you're right and some day otherwise. My Lumia 521 won't work with Cortana on WiFi. Have you heard about a fix for it yet?

I got a 928 & i stay on WiFi and i haven't had any troubles

Mark Richey says:

I have been listening to Haunted Empire. I had forgotten that Siri was far from a great success when she was ruled out. It is great to see Cortana step up with far more on board than did Siri right out of the box.

Steven Curl says:

I wonder if I can get my Xbox one to have a conversation with Cortana, that would be pretty rad.

xankazo says:

What does the verb "to dish" really mean? I think I have been misinterpreting it my whole life. I thought it meant something negative. English is not my native language btw.

Sam Sabri says:

You're confusing diss and dish.

Ali Assaedi says:

my guess would be ditch :P

xankazo says:

You're right. It's "diss" what I've been confusing it with. Thanks. :)

ALex Susky says:

To dish is when, normally a woman or a homosexual, talks extensively and excitedly about a subject, usually gossip. That is to say that usually women and homosexuals use the word, not that they are the only ones who do it.

tk-093 says:

Women and homosexuals?  What rock did you crawl out from under?

Viipottaja says:

Now she's a she. :)

dqgeek says:

She seems to work well most of the time for me. The only thing I've had problems with is getting her to respond to the same questions as in the demos, i.e. "Who's your daddy?" and some others. When i tell her to tell me a joke, she gives me a list of Bing results.

spinzeroWL says:

Ask her 'why did the chicken cross the road'. She gives a good answer.
Pretty ropey at singing though!

romeupaz says:

did anyone saw in the image "what do you enjoy doing in the evening" ?

mango.lover says:

Viva La Hasley!

davidbeahero says:

I can't get Cortana to appear on my 920 in Australia, I have set region to US and time and date to US. Is there something I am missing. Please help

asmithau says:

Davidbeahero set your language and speech to US also. Time doesn't effect anything

lemonsteveo says:

Settings > Applications > Cortana - turn it on from there.

Fritzly says:

You must enable Location

I wonder why I don't have that music button on the right side of my Cortana.. am I the only one?

ULOP3Z says:

I have no idea? i hope someone helps you out on that but you can still ask cortana what's playing and she'll tell you

ALex Susky says:

My god windows phone central, proof read your damn articles there are like 5 grammatical errors in a 3 paragraph article. God damn

steve_w_7 says:

You forgot the period at the end of your last sentence.  Just sayin'.

Dean McCrae says:

He's not being paid to do nothing but write all day.

Mahesh Gosi says:

Hey guys. Why does Cortana say ' Speech failed to work. Please try again'? I am not able to use speech in my 525. Please help. I am in India

Chris Yahya says:

OMG, two years?!?!?!?

davidbeahero says:

I have changed region and speech and have location turned on but Cortana is not an option in applications

4 fun says:

Cortana works far beyond under Wi-Fi...

rysliv says:

I thought I read she was ditching development.

Tragic says:

What's that music note for?

Tragic says:

Nevermind I just remember what it does. O'doyle Rules!

darklord12 says:

She hates me. She never called me by my name. Opens up bing for every dan thing.i ask her to call a friend and she opened up bing for that. Why?

Surya Teja says:

Yeah.., always opening Bing... Not conversing properly.. Bad assistant..

Still no cortana for 8X, because HTC 'forgot' to boot US English on their European phones -.-

Surya Teja says:

I m facing lot of problems with Cortana... It's not able to make a call even in offline mode

Surya Teja says:

When I ask it who is your father... It says bill gates as expected..., when I try to continue the conversation by asking how old is he.... It thinks that I'm asking something else and searches in Bing nothing related to bill gates

darklord12 says:

She can't continue any conversation!
She won't call me by my name
She opens Bing for every damn thing!
When I ask her to call my dad she opens up Bing!
I did a couple of soft resets and one hard reset.
None of them solved the problem
I thought that opening Cortana via the app live tile hoping that it would solve all the problems
Still"NOTHING ' -_- I now use Assistant by SpeakToIt-it's a million times better than Cortana!>_<

Can she afford to buy new jeans now?

spazzmeister says:

Shit editing is shit. Did you type this on a WP8.1 phone?

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